The Perfect Fig

Much to my surprise and delight, I found about a half dozen ripe figs when I checked my tree yesterday. I hadn’t looked for several days, thinking that none seemed close to ripening. But with a couple very hot days and nights, the little gems were plumped to perfection. I stood under the tree with my daughter… Read more »

A Bounty of Beans

Food this good is why people have gardens. With every bite, I kept thinking, “Yes, this is why they work so hard. They grew up with food like this, living without it would be torture.” Just a simple dish of Roma beans, new red potatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil. It doesn’t get any more basic, old… Read more »

Finally…Figs! (at least a few)

The early figs are here! There are never many of them, but the first fig crop of the season is always a welcome sight.   Known as ‘ficcazana’ in Calabrian dialect and ‘fioroni’ in the dialect of Basilicata, these are figs that grow on the end of branches that developed during the growing season last year. They ripen about a… Read more »

On the Road: California

Italian Americans reside in all parts of the US and where you find Italian Americans you’ll find gardens. The Italian Garden Project™ has spent the past several summers traveling the country seeking out classic Italian American vegetable gardens.  This summer we hit the road at the end of June to document gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area of California,… Read more »

Chickens Change Everything

I think that I can speak with some authority about chickens, having been dressed as one for my first Halloween. My maternal grandmother was a seamstress by profession, taught by the nuns at the convent in her small village in northern Italy.  Her grandchildren always had the best Halloween costumes in the neighborhood. And I must have… Read more »

Growing and Cooking Rapini

A staple of the early spring Italian American garden is rapini, also called rapa, cima di rapa, broccoletti, broccoli rabe, broccoli raab, even friarielli in and around Naples.  It is popular in Italy, especially in southern Italy where dozens of varieties are grown. Belonging to the family Brassicaceae, the mustard family, it’s closely related to… Read more »

A Visit to Bruno’s Garden

On a hot summer day last July, I discovered one of the most amazing gardens I’ve ever seen. I was invited to the home of Bruno Garofalo by his daughter who had contacted me when she heard about my interest in Italian American gardens.  Even as I approached a side door toward the back of the… Read more »